Understanding the Cord Blood Collection Procedure

Two types of cord blood collection procedures are typically used:  the bag method or the syringe method.  Your care provider will decide which of these procedures is preferable in your situation.

The Bag Method  

With the Bag Method, the caregiver should first wait for the umbilical cord to stop pulsating (usually less than 5 minutes for a natural delivery and up to 15 minutes for a medicated birth, including cesarean section), then clamp the cord and cut it.  Once this is completed, the placenta and cord are elevated, using the force of gravity to drain the blood from the placenta into the bag.

The Syringe Method

With the Syringe method,  the caregiver should also wait for the umbilical cord to stop pulsating before clamping and cutting it.  Then, similar to the procedure used for a simple blood draw, an empty syringe is used to extra blood from the placenta and remaining cord.

In either method, the bag/syringe is pre-marked with a number specially coded to the baby.    The collection must occur within the first fifteen minutes after birth.  The laboratory should process the cord blood sample within two days.

Both methods should take less than five minutes to complete and should not cause mother or baby any discomfort.  The collection procedure should not interfere with birth or later bonding and can be performed after both cesarean sections and vaginal births.  However, if delayed cord clamping is not performed as the first step, then the baby is at greater risk of anemia and other assorted complications due to unnecessary lack of blood volume.

While delayed cord clamping is a research-based practice, many care providers will fail to follow this critical first step due to fear of obtaining less than 75ml of cord blood, the minimum required.  However, research supports the newborn should receive as much blood volume as needed at birth, in which case it's preferable for the baby to receive the blood rather than to attempt a collection as in most cases it will never be used.

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Page Last Modified by Catherine Beier, MS, CBE

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